George Freeman

George Freeman always comes to mind when I think of comic book powerhouses who can do it all. Freeman's got the goods: killer drawing chops, excellent timing, a sharp sense of design, and he gives his work enough of a cartoon shine to make it look fun and alive. He's like Michael Golden as inked by P. Craig Russell. It's exceptional work, but due to his erratic résumé, Freeman's never been closely associated with any one major title or character and thus, his work is easy to miss.

There is one title he's known for: Captain Canuck. Fans of 70s independent comics will remember this ground-level staple. Freeman joined the title early on and quickly gave it a distinct visual identity.

Those comics have such careful rendering and crisp layouts, of course it set itself apart. The coloring on those issues, oftentimes done by Freeman himself, is quite sophisticated. Get those comics in their original format -- something special clicks between the colors and the newsprint that is absent in reprints.

Fast forward to the early-mid 80s. Freeman flirted with publishers such as Eclipse, Capital, DC, and First Comics, but made his mark when he drew the Jack of Hearts mini series (above) for Marvel as well as a short Daredevil story in Marvel Fanfare #7. [I personally love/hate the story; it looks gorgeous but the ending is so pointlessly brutal.]

Worth mentioning is his inking over Joe Staton on Alan Brennert's "The Autobiography of Bruce Wayne" from Brave & the Bold #197. It's a strong pairing, as Freeman leaves his thumbprint while remaining faithful to Staton's rubbery sensibility.

A few years later, Freeman would draw his most reprinted story to date, "Mortal Clay" written by Alan Moore in Batman Annual #11.

Even though he's worked on tons of comics, George Freeman's pencil art has slowed down in the past few decades, occasionally inking seemingly random projects and focusing on coloring (he was nominated for Best Colorist in the '96 Eisners).

"Seemingly random" sounds like I don't understand how the tempo of a freelancer's career goes. Not many of us get to curate our own trajectory, and even if we were able to, a gig is a gig is a gig. It's good work if you can get it. I would love more pages with Freeman artwork on them, but so what -- bills have to be paid and this Leave It To Chance issue ain't gonna color itself.

George Freeman's work deserves to be revisited and studied and held in higher regard. Ignore it at your own risk.

Here's a suggested reading list of my favorite Freeman comics:

· Aquaman Special (1988)
· Avengers West Coast Annual 6 (Don't sleep on this one.)
· Badger 68
· Batman Annual 11 (His most famous work, written by Alan Moore.)
· Big Book of Bad
· Black Widow: the Coldest War (So excellent, but so many inkers.)
· Captain Canuck (Seriously, get the originals. 14 is the high point.)
· Green Lantern Corps Annual 2
· Jack of Hearts mini series (Shown here. Never reprinted.)
· Marvel Fanfare 7, 57
· Nexus 9 (Back-up story, recolored in a reprint, btw.)
· Secret Origins 18, 46 (inks/colors 46 over Curt Swan. Great art team.)

· Wasteland 2, 3, 4, 6, 7 (Short stories for this wonderful anthology.)

This article first appeared in Michel Fiffe's Patreon page.